From Tony in Minnesota
I’ve had it with my oldest brother acting like he’s the boss in the business just because he’s our oldest brother in the family. Any ideas what I should do?
It sounds like your brother and my brother would get along great! Yeah– I guess it’s human nature that the oldest brother feels like he’s been crowned the heir apparently, simply by his birthright! You won’t believe how many times I see this pattern.
Your solution goes something like this. Tell them you know he sure was big brother and that you know that probably makes him feel like he needs to still tell you what to do, and how to get through life, just like you did when you were little kids; but in fact you don’t need him to fill that role anymore. And furthermore you need him to stop assuming that role especially in the business setting. A successful family business is run on having clear rules and responsibilities, and positions based upon strengths and best fit.
Your brother is reverting to his childhood role and many times is trying to hold on to a position he had in the family as a way to secure the lead position in the business. Unfortunately that’s not what’s best for the business in most cases.
He’s going to resist but you need to push forward and be consistent and clear about telling him that you aren’t his subordinate in the business, and you better figure that out sooner rather than later.
Try to bring some lightness and respect to the situation. At the end of the day everyone wants to feel appreciated. The more you can respect and appreciate your brother the more he’ll be able to fulfill his role in the family business. It takes a long time to change old habits so be consistent, be brave and be relentless about finding roles that work for everyone!